The legality of cannabis and its derived products namely Cannabidiol has been under debate in the UK for years. But with 2019 already halfway done, there is still a lack of clarity about the legality of cannabis and in particular, CBD Oil.
Britains conservative influence on the legality of CBD Oil
The Conservative Party has been on the ruling seat in the UK for years, and their extremely strict and traditional leanings have made the issue of cannabis legalisation extremely fraught with challenges. For decades, the UK has viewed cannabis and all of its derivatives as a great evil, and the Conservatives have been vehemently opposed to the legalisation of cannabis in the UK. In 1990, the Green Party pushed for total legalisation of cannabis – from growing to processing to sale to consumption. This stance was supported by the Liberal Democrats in the 2000s, and a case for the legalisation of cannabis was made in the Parliament. British MP Norman Lamb even introduced a bill to decriminalise the processing, consumption and possession of marijuana in 2018. However, he lost with 66 to 52 votes against the proposal.
Changes in the medicinal Cannabis law
Even today, the Conservative Party is against the legalisation of cannabis, its compounds and products. However, things took a turn for the better when the UK Government legalised medical cannabis in select cases, under The Misuse of Drugs (Amendments) (Cannabis and License Fees) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2018 bill.
The move came after minor patients Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell provided evidence of how regular consumption of cannabis had reduced the frequency of their epileptic seizures.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, England's Chief Medical Officer, along with the support of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and the Department of Health (DoH), conducted a thorough investigation into the medicinal effects of cannabis and CBD. Today, medical practitioners can prescribe CBD products to patients in select circumstances such as:
- Children suffering from extreme epileptic seizures.
- Severe chemotherapy-induced nausea and side-effects.
- Severe muscle stiffness and chronic pain due to multiple sclerosis.
British laws about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in 2019
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another major compound found in cannabis, and it is a psychoactive compound. While CBD is responsible for the rejuvenating effects on the human body, THC is responsible for the feeling of “high” that users experience when they consume cannabis. This is why THC is still illegal in the UK – it is considered as a type of drug. This brings the legality of CBD oil back into question.
CBD Isolate products
The cannabis plant contains both CBD and THC. Based on the way it is processed, the CBD oil can either be an isolate or a full spectrum CBD. CBD isolates are those CBD products which contain 100% pure CBD. They are prepared by stripping away all those compounds, wax, chlorophyll and other by-products from the cannabis plant.
Full-spectrum/whole-plant hemp oil
However, full-spectrum CBD is the CBD which is formulated using the entire cannabis plant. This means full-spectrum CBD Oil also contains the chlorophyll, oils, wax and compounds (including THC), which are found in the cannabis plant.
In order to prescribe CBD oil in the UK, doctors need to make sure that the oil contains less than 0.2% of THC, and the THC must not be easily separated from the oil.
Additionally, the oil must be formulated in accordance with the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. Circumventing these regulations is punishable by UK law. This is why many medical practitioners prescribe low concentrate CBD oil to patients – oil which contains less than 0.05% of THC. This ensures that they don’t flout legal regulations.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
When we talk of medicinal CBD oil, we refer to CBD oil made by pressing the psychoactive cannabis plant variety – the plant which contains THC. Although CBD oil is legal as medicine in the UK, the processing, possession and consumption of cannabidiol oil for any other reason is still illegal. This means you can only legally access medicinal CBD when prescribed by a doctor under special circumstances. The only completely legal form of cannabis CBD oil in the UK is hemp CBD oil. This is because hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. Hemp that is being cultivated in the UK and Europe at the moment has been been preapproved by the EU and once the THC content is below 0.2% the extracted CBD is legal to sell as a food supplement in the UK.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), any CBD derivatives, compounds and by-products made from the hemp plant are 100% legal in the UK. Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant. In fact, hemp oil is a very common food additive in the UK and is also used in cosmetics.
CBD oil on Amazon UK
The Cannabidiol market place can be confusing for shoppers, especially for first-time buyers. CBD oil from your local pharmacy, online e-commerce store to even Amazon CBD products all offer different varieties of CBD oil.
CBD oil from Pharmacies
Most oil found in pharmacies is CBD isolate products which means exactly how it sounds CBD and CBD alone. CBD oil works better when the plant's cannabinoids work synergistically together.
CBD Oil from Online Stores
Full-spectrum can be found mostly in online e-commerce stores. This is, without a doubt, the inferior product as you are getting the benefits of the whole plant. In fact, there are an estimated 300 different cannabinoids to be found in trace amounts in hemp. Make sure to read the label and check for 'whole plant' or 'full spectrum'. This leaves the oil found on Amazon.
Cannabidiol from Amazon UK
Amazon has a strict policy on CBD related products and bans all sales. However, if you venture to there website to buy CBD oil, you will find listings. Most of these products are very cheap when compared to normal CBD prices which either means the oil is substandard or it is a very weak CBD oil. Usually, this is the case (although there is a lot of misleading advertising here). Usually, these products stay up on Amazon for a short time before they are taken down by site regulators. Some products can even be found to be promoting a wide range of health benefits which is a big no no in the CBD industry.
Hemp Seed Oil on Amazon
Hemp seed oil is the only legitimate form of Cannabis found on Amazon. This oil is made entirely from hemp seeds and therefore does not contain any CBD. This oil has its benefits and is very high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Be careful when purchasing CBD oil from Amazon. The CBD oil is usually fake oil that is wholly underpriced, or it is just hemp seed oil. Either way, if you are looking for a potent CBD oil, you will need to search online for whole plant/full-spectrum oil.
Legal caveats in hemp
The legality of CBD oil in the UK isn’t a matter in black and white. There are many CBD products and hemp products that are subject to different rules and regulations, generating further confusion about their legality. For example, while hemp oil is legal in the UK, hemp buds are illegal. They are considered a form of drug, despite the complete absence of THC. However, crushed hemp tea leaves are considered legal in the UK and can be sold in stores.
Why full spectrum hemp is legal and Isolates are Not
Similarly, while CBD isolates are legal in the UK, they can only be inhaled or vaped. They cannot be ingested as a powder or used with a carrier oil. This makes the usage of CBD isolate oils illegal. Only full-spectrum CBD Oil that contains less than 0.2% of THC is legal for consumption. However, CBD isolate made from cold pressing the plant is legal. Finally, according to the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), CBD products cannot be used as supplements in pet food, since they are classified as “medicine for humans” only.
Buying medicinal prescriptions from the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have strict rules in force to regulate the sale and consumption of CBD oil in the UK. As mentioned, patients afflicted with severe epilepsy, chemotherapy-induced nausea and multiple sclerosis-induced muscle spasticity are granted prescriptions to CBD.
First medicinal approved product
Initially, only one strain of CBD - Nabiximols (sold under the trade name of Sativex) was legal for medicinal use in the UK. Today, there are other brands, like Cesamet (Nabilone), which is a synthetically designed cannabis-based medication. Nabilone is consumed in the form of capsules and Sativex is used as a spray. Read More: Is CBD Oil legal in your Country? However, the NICE recently gave Sativex a "do not recommend" status because of its low-cost effectiveness. Research is underway to develop low-cost CBD medication in the UK. Additionally, the NHS recommends that doctors use their discretion when determining the duration of the prescription to prevent patients from getting too addicted to CBD. So far, only 7-year-old Sophia Gibson has been granted the long-term license to use cannabis for the treatment of Dravet syndrome.
Is CBD oil legal in Northern Ireland?
Marijuana is illegal and classified as a Class B drug under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. But this doesn't mean that CBD oil is illegal too. The attitude towards Marijuana is shifting, and people are shifting their judgment from ‘illegal drug that takes you high' to ‘an oil with health benefits.' The laws on CBD oil is consistent in the UK, and Marijuana still is illegal due to high levels of THC. So, where does that leave CBD oil?
CBD is sought-after for the non-existing psychoactive agents that Marijuana contains. As CBD offers a lot of health benefits, the World Health Organisation declared it to be safe and non-toxic for use in 2017. Taking this into account, many companies started selling it for its medical benefits. It was used as a health supplement as it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) declared that CBD could only be sold over the counter as food supplements.
Even after Sativex, a medicine containing CBD was made legal, there was a lot of confusion on the legality of CBD oil in Northern Ireland. It was then made clear that CBD oil is legal for sale in shops as well as online. But the product cannot have traces of THC more than 0.2%, and it must be made from an EU-approved strain of hemp only.
Is growing Hemp legal in Northern Ireland?
Hemp is one of the species of the cannabis plant that is known for its medicinal benefits. As it contains less than 03% THC, it is well in demand in several industries. The UK laws on cannabidiol have been consistent for all countries and Hemp can be grown locally. You will need a special licence, and you will also need to follow some strict restrictions from the Home Office. If, as a manufacturer, you fail to follow the MHRA guidelines, you will be in trouble. Apart from that, you are free to grow Hemp legally in Northern Ireland.
The legal status of CBD / THC oil as medicine in Northern Ireland
CBD oil is being used in the medical world in many countries. When we speak about medicinal CBD oil this usually includes elevated levels of THC meaning it cannot be sold as a food supplement as the THC level is over 0.2% and oil also doesn’t come from industrial hemp. But can CBD oil be used in Northern Ireland for medicinal purposes? Can CBD oil be prescribed by doctors?
Cannabis-based medicinal products are available in the country. But to be able to obtain these products, you will need a prescription from a specialist doctor. Not every doctor can prescribe CBD oil for medicinal use. The quality, safety and effectiveness of CBD oil are analysed by a team of expert clinicians. These clinicians are listed on the specialist register of the General Medical Council, and only those listed doctors can legally prescribe CBD oil for medical purpose.
CBD / THC as medicine under prescription was made legal after much campaigning by families of children with Lennox-Gastuat syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Any CBD-based medicine sold without a prescription from the doctors listed under the General Medical Council is considered illegal in Northern Ireland. CBD-based medicinal products must have a product licence to be sold legally. Also, the sale and advertising of CBD oil for medical purposes without a product licence is illegal.
Will I be in trouble if I buy CBD oil in Belfast?
As long as you, as a consumer, buy CBD oil with the following guidelines, you will not be in any trouble. You just have to make sure that:
- The CBD you buy contains less than 0.2% THC
- The product comes from industrial hemp and is labelled a food supplement
- The product contains a third-party lab report to verify the guidelines above
- Medicinal CBD / THC can be bought but only under prescription from a specialised doctor.
As a manufacturer, as long as you follow the guidelines set forward by the MHRA, CBD oil production is also legal in Northern Ireland. [rating_form id="2"] 10% Discount Code: Drhemp10
✅ Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
The only completely legal form of CBD oil in the UK is when it comes from the cannabis variety hemp. All other forms of CBD oil come from high THC strains of cannabis and are illegal in the UK. Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant. It possesses high amounts of Cannabidiol and only trace amounts of THC.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), any CBD derivatives, compounds and by-products made from the hemp plant are 100% legal in the UK.
✅ Where can you purchase CBD Oil in the UK?
CBD oil from hemp can be bought online and from physical stores. Most physical stores are selling CBD isolate products which include Holland and Barrets CBD. Online stores tend to favour Full Spectrum CBD Oil as it is a superior product. Full Spectrum means you are getting the benefits of every cannabinoid extracted from the plant, not just CBD.
✅ Is Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate legal in the UK?
CBD isolates are considered a novel food and therefore do not qualify as a food supplement until they are novel authorised. CBD isolates can only be legally vaped and cannot be ingested. Full Spectrum CBD oil that contains less than 0.2% THC are legal to consume.